MESA+ University of Twente
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Shu-Han Hsu (promotion date: 20 May 2010)

Lateral interactions at functional monolayers

Promotion date: 20. May 2010

Promotors: Prof. Dr. Ir. David Reinhoudt and Prof. Dr. Ir. Jurriaan Huskens

Assistant Promotor: Dr. Aldrik Velders

Control over functional groups at the surface of solid supports, e.g. silicon oxide of metals, allows tailoring of monolayers in a predictable manner, resulting in the formation of functional, more complex nanostructures on surfaces, to meet the needs for specific applications, such as molecular sensing. Various chemical interaction strategies have been used to chemically organize the self-assembly of molecules: covalent bonding, electrostatic interactions, hydrogen bonding, metal-ligand and host-guest interactions.

Was your work application oriented or more fundamental research?

The thesis targets towards a fundamental understanding of molecular interactions on solid supports both in covalent and non-covalent systems, by employing patterning techniques such as microcontact printing. The understanding of molecular interactions allows us to study self-assembling systems in a systematic manner.

The techniques used are not very special. I could manage that. The chemical synthesis part of the work, however, was more difficult. As a physician this meant a completely different field for me. In the beginning I really needed the input of my supervisor, especially David Reinhoudt. He was very kind and promised me he would not try to turn a physicist into a chemist.

How did you come into contact with Mesa+?

I was working on a master project in Sweden when a friend recommended me to apply at the Mesa+ institute. Also I had a talk with a senior researcher who visited the university in Linköping.

I was particularly interested in the work of the Supramolecular Chemistry & Technology and Molecular Nanofabrication groups. The equipment they use is very much up to date.

Mesa + is well-known throughout the world. At a conference of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco for example, most researchers were familiar with the institute.

Did you have some nice articles published?

Yes, one already appeared in Journal of Materials Chemistry and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Two articles are in preparation, also one literature review, and some other corporation works.

In what way did you develop as a researcher and scientist, during your thesis period?

I learned to think and act more individually and independently. My supervisor always told me that it is important to have a deep understanding of the working field, in a way that you are always be able to teach someone else. The cooperation with a Polish student researcher for example was very instructive to me.

Furhermore, I really learned that planning is crucial. One has to plan all the stages of research and write down every step. I made a detailed planning every week. This is important, for example to get your samples ready in time. I always planned one experiment a week maximum.

What are your future plans?

I would like to return to my home country, Taiwan. There are many possibilities to get a job in a research institute there, I am convinced. The research will be more application driven. My research field will be semiconducting, I hope, for example creating innovative solar cell interfaces.